Colorado Springs, CO — After several attempts to find an appropriate euphemism to describe the decaying state of their elderly father, a Colorado Springs sister and brother finally settled on “a transitional phase” when they took to Facebook this week. Stacy Harrold James and Kenton Harrold have been dutifully visiting their ailing father, retired Marine Major Gary “the guts” Harrold (84), at the Luke Ponte Senior Home for the past year as his condition deteriorated.
“He’s a hero, that’s for sure,” said Kenton speaking of his father. “He never was a man of words — a kind of tough guy’s tough guy. But we never doubted he loved us. But, you know, it’s just hard to come to terms with this phase in our lives. So we just figured we’d prolong our suffering by coming up with vague euphemisms for denying his condition.”
Stacey shared a rather long list of pretentious phases they vetted before settling on their “a transition phase.”
“Well, let see here,” said Ms. James rummaging through a stack of wrinkled binder paper. “There’s ‘departed,’ but he’s not departed yet. And here’s ‘losing his battle,’ which Kent liked, but I didn’t. We almost chose ‘traveling to a better place,’ however, we could figure where that might be. Dad does have this funny sense of humor, so ‘give up the ghost’ might have worked. But in the end, I think we made the right choice for our current state of denial.”
Major Gary Harrold served four tours in Vietnam and led several attacks in the first Iraq war. He was famous four saving over 13 men from sniper fire during the 1968 Tet Offensive with no gun, and after losing almost a liter of blood from gunshot wounds. He was famous for his direct, and some would say harsh, sense of humor in heated battles. He wasn’t one for “pussyfooting around the truth,” as one of his reports retired Sgt. Darrel Banes would recall in a 2003 memoir.
“Major Harrold had a way of making us laugh in terrible situations. And that somehow got us to accept what was going on,” said Mr. Banes, the author of Say it Straight: Tales from the Trenches. “There’s something to be said about hiding behind words when you’re in the wrong place. ‘Just be honest, and you’re on your way to fixing things,’ the Major used to say.”
Major Harrold’s children are already working on the list of euphemisms for his actual death and subsequent funeral. Although they haven’t agreed on the exact metaphorical language for his death, they have decided on “a Celebration Dad’s Big Nap,” which suggests the couple has their father’s humor gene.